The Canadian federal government has made a series of announcements regarding travel, quarantine, and testing requirements for travelers arriving by air and by land. These new measures form part of the government’s efforts to prevent the spread of new, more contagious COVID-19 variants feared to be introduced by travelers from overseas. As of the date of this writing, the requirements are as follows. Changes are being announced on a regular and frequent basis without advance notice, so please check for the latest requirements before booking or commencing travel.
Today, on “Immigration Day,” the Biden administration issued a series of executive orders relating to its major immigration policy priorities, including: (1) revising the “public charge rule,” (2) rebuilding faith in the legal immigration system, (3) implementing a humane migration and asylum system, and (4) creating a task force to reunite migrant children who were separated from their families under the Trump administration. In remarks made at the signing ceremony, President Biden stated that he is “not making new law” but unraveling prior administration policies. Continue Reading On “Immigration Day,” Biden Signs Orders to Reverse Prior Administration Policies
As anticipated and indicated in our “heat map” of immigration actions during the first 100 days in office, the Biden administration has withdrawn a rule proposed by the Trump administration that would have eliminated work authorization for the H-4 spouses of certain H-1B visa holders. The decision to withdraw the rule will allow the H-4 dependent spouse of an H-1B nonimmigrant who:
- Is the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
- Has been granted an extension of their H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act (AC21)
to continue to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Under AC21 § 106, an H-1B nonimmigrant can receive H-1B status beyond the six-year maximum, in one-year increments, if 365 days or more have passed since either an application for Alien Labor Certification (Form ETA 750A-B or ETA 9089) or a petition for immigrant worker (Form I-140) has been filed on the nonimmigrant’s behalf. Continue Reading H-4 Dependent Spouses Breathing a Little Easier
Canada. Today the Canadian Government announced rules further restricting international travel. According to the government’s press release:
- Flight suspension. All flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries suspended until April 30, 2021, in effect as of Sunday, January 31, 2021.
- Routing Through Four Canadian Airports. Effective midnight (11:59 PM EST) February 3, 2021, in addition to proof of a negative pre-departure test, all international flights will land at only four airports: Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto Pearson, Calgary, and Vancouver. The new restrictions will include scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction.
- Testing and Hotel Stay Upon Arrival. All arriving air travelers must reserve a room in a government-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost. The timing for implementation of this requirement has not been made clear at the time of this writing.
- Testing for Land-Crossing. Travelers crossing by land will be required to test negative 72-hours prior to arrival, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers.
Italy has become one of the first countries to waive the quarantine requirement for travelers who arrive on designated “COVID-free” direct flights. By an ordinance issued by the Italian Ministry of Health, passengers who have tested negative for COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to Italy without being subject to the current 14-day quarantine measures for certain arrivals. Passengers must fly Alitalia and Delta direct flights departing from New York’s JFK, Newark and Atlanta airports, and arriving at Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome. Continue reading at www.covid19.com.
H-1B Wage Rule Delayed
Yesterday, the DOL announced that, consistent with the Biden administration’s regulatory freeze, it will delay the application of a last-minute Trump Administration order meant to revise the computation of prevailing wages employers are required to pay H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 visa holders. The new effective date of the regulation is May 14, 2021. In the interim, the DOL will open a 15-day comment period starting on February 1st, with a subsequent 60-day review period.
If it goes into effect, the Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States rule would have a significant impact on sectors that rely on foreign workers, including the tech industry. While the Biden administration has signaled its intent to reverse the Trump administration’s H-1B policies, it is not clear that this regulation will be withdrawn. The Biden administration has expressed an interest to reform the temporary visa system so that “they are aligned with the labor market and not used to undermine wages.” Continue Reading H-1B Wage Rule Delayed, Secretary Blinken Confirmed at State, and DHS Nominee Mayorkas Reportedly to be Filibustered
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday that the United Kingdom is considering changes to its self-isolation requirements for inbound international travelers, including a possible mandatory hotel quarantine period for those entering the UK.
The country currently requires travelers to have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before their travel and to fill out a passenger locator form that includes where they will be staying. Once in the UK, travelers must quarantine for ten days, unless they show a negative test five days after being in the UK. With certain, limited exceptions, travelers must isolate in one location, and it must be the location listed on their passenger locator form. Slightly different rules apply in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Continue reading at www.covid19.com
In a proclamation issued Monday, President Biden banned travelers from entering the United States if they recently spent time in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, the Schengen Area, or South Africa. Citing its goal of curbing the spread and health impact of COVID-19, particularly novel strains of the virus arising in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK, the new administration is requiring travelers to spend 14 days in a third country before transiting to the United States. The travel restrictions take effect today, January 26, 2021. Continue Reading Continuing Restrictions Placed on the UK, Ireland, Europe, and Brazil, Biden Administration Adds Ban on Travel from South Africa
Several countries around the globe have imposed COVID-19 testing as part of their pre-travel requirements. In line with these measures, Australia has joined the list of countries requiring COVID-19 testing, with the Department of Home Affairs in Australia announcing new measures. Commencing on January 22, 2021, anyone traveling or transiting through Australia must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test to the airline prior to departure. The COVID-19 PCR test must be taken at least 72 hours prior to departure.
The negative PCR COVID-19 test results must be in English and include the following information:
- Traveler’s name and date of birth
- The test result (such as ‘negative or ‘not detected’)
- The method of test conducted (must be PCR test)
- The date the specimen was collected
- The date the test result was authorized and the name of the authorizing officer/entity
- Name and address of the laboratory / clinic / facility that administered the test
- Accreditation body that the laboratory is affiliated with, if known
A paper-based record is preferred, however, electronic records will be accepted. Children under four years of age at the time of boarding will not be required to receive the COVID-19 PCR test. All other COVID-19 pre-travel requirements remain in effect – i.e., approved exemption to the current travel restriction. We are expecting that entry measures will continue to be adjusted according to the epidemic.
Nearly half of the executive orders signed by President Biden on his first day in office reverse the immigration policies of the Trump administration. The Biden administration’s actions included reversing the ban on visa issuance and travel from Muslim-majority countries, placing an immediate pause on funding construction of a wall along the country’s southern border, and requiring testing negative for COVID-19 to enter the United States. The new administration’s swift action underscores the priority placed on immigration policy, as forecasted here. We outline each executive order signed, with plans to further address the executive actions most critical to employers and businesses. Continue Reading President Biden’s First Executive Orders Focus on Reversing Trump Administration Policies